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Christians and Sex
Christians and Sex
or, The Futility of Trying To Regulate Bedroom Behavior

Christians have always had a strange relationship with sex. It's been a love/hate relationship with most emphasis on "hate." It's no secret that most Christians today are still very much hung up on sex, and to them any sex outside the marital bedroom is sinful and evil. And even some of those believe that if you're doing it in any position besides missionary, you're offending God.

Present-day Christians' ideas on sexual morality can easily be traced back to the Puritans. Had any other group come over on the Mayflower we'd probably have a more open and relaxed attitude toward sex in the United States. But, as it is, we're still very uptight. In Europe, it's not unusual to see a pair of breasts on television, and it's not hard to find topless women sunning themselves on a beach. But here in the U.S., people seem to think that society will collapse if you see a woman naked. If the furor over the milliseconds-long televised glimpse of Janet Jackson's breast during the Superbowl XXXVIII halftime show is any indication, we've still got a long way to go to change our American attitude toward sex.

While Puritannical ideals seem to be the norm among most Christians, what is really frustrating is when they think that everyone else should abide by their own ideas of sexual morality. Apparently their god gave us sex organs, but we're only supposed to enjoy them in a very limited way. That is, no masturbation, no premarital sex, and no contraception. It's sort of like your parents buying you a car as a teenager, and then only allowing you to drive on certain roads at certain times, with only one passenger.

Now it may seem silly that an all-powerful deity gave us the wonderful thing of sex (which I think in everybody's opinion has to be the most wonderful thing in the world) knowing full well that some people would try different kinds of sex, and then get angry at them for not using it the one way he had in mind. It gets even sillier when you think of this deity controlling all the billions of stars in the universe with probably billions of planets orbiting them, but yet he gets totally angry because of where some people on this one tiny little rock stick their penises.
If you listen to the Christians, you tend to get the idea that any bad thing that happens is because people are enjoying sex. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans? It must be because of loose morals and homosexuality. I just can't see how people enjoying what God gave them would make him so angry.

Christians tend to be vehemently opposed to sexual education in schools unless it's abstenence-only. We all know that abstinence-only sex ed just does not work. My own sexual education from my mother can be summed up in one sentence: "Don't have sex until you're married." Little does she know. Now, I was smart and used condoms and other contraception when I didn't yet want to become a father or contract an STD. However, scientific studies show that rates of teenage pregnancy tend to rise when contraception isn't discussed or made available to teens. Or, in the case of teens who sign "purity pledges" stating that they won't have premarital sex, instead they practice oral or anal sex claiming that it's "not real sex."

But the real kicker is that Christians tend to be anti-abortion. OK, so they don't want anyone to have or use contraception, but yet they are against anyone having abortions. If you talk to people in the pro-life crowd long enough, eventually they'll admit that if a woman has sex she should be "punished" with a baby. It all comes down to one thing: trying to control people's sex lives. For some reason Christians tend to think that if contraception or abortion weren't available, then people would stop having sex. However, anyone with a sense of reality can see this is not the case.

Homosexuality is another hot-button issue with Christians. Gay marriage is the latest debate and the last bastion of anti-gay persecution that Christians are clinging to. The reason seems to be twofold: first, allowing gays to have legal marriages would be legitimizing homosexuality and is something they absolutely don't want to support. Secondly, they seem to think that not allowing gay marriage will keep people from being gay, or else allowing gay marriage will somehow make straight people want to become gay. It's sad and silly, but it's the general idea one gets from the Christian Right.

What these Christians again don't seem to realize is that not allowing gay marriage will not keep people from being gay. Even if you passed a law outlawing homosexuality (even with a death penalty as in Uganda), there are still going to be gay people. The closet door has long been opened and Christians are not going to be able to shove them back in. But yet they still try.
Basically sex and morality comes down to a very basic principle. What two (or more) consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom is nobody else's business. It doesn't matter if your idea of morality means that women should not have sex until marriage, if a woman wants to have sex with another consenting adult, that's her right. It took shedding my religion for me to realize this, since I was raised Catholic by a very judgmental mother.

Christians don't seem to realize, though, that the more you try to suppress sex, the more people want to have it. In Victorian times, people were so sexually repressed that men got excited by seeing a woman's bare ankle. I imagine in Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries where women have to stay covered with burkas and hijabs that men are easily turned on by seeing a woman without one. The simple fact is that the human sex drive is a very powerful thing, and trying to tell someone that sex and masturbation is bad will either just not work, or worse yet give them sexual hangups for the rest of their lives. A teenager with raging hormones has to have some sort of release or else he would probably be driven crazy by sexual desires. I remember enjoying masturbation as my only sexual outlet as an awkward teenager growing up in a small town with few teenage girls. But then during religion class one Sunday I read in the textbook that the Vatican considered masturbation a sin. I didn't want to believe it, and thought they were wrong. To me it was just an outlet, a way to relieve sexual tension. I believed then as I do now that as long as you're not doing it in public or doing it twenty times a day, there's nothing wrong with it.

Some Christians have made the claim that if you keep having sex, you soon get bored with it and keep wanting more and more, then wanting kinkier and kinkier sex to satisfy your cravings, much like a drug addict. However, the truth is far different. It's like a release valve on a high pressure tank. If you don't release sexual energy or tension once in a while, you'll explode. Or, more likely, you might develop sexual perversions that otherwise would have been mitigated by regular sexual activity. At the very least, you can get through your day without constantly thinking about sex until the next time sexual urges build up. And it is important to mention a scientific survey done a few years ago which concluded that regular masturbation by men may prevent prostate cancer¹. It's hard for someone to view it as something harmful (according to the Vatican) when it doesn't hurt anything and has been shown to actually be good for you. But yet Christians insist on stopping such behavior.

So now about ten years into the 21st century, Christians are still trying to control sexual behavior like they did in centuries past. However, it doesn't seem to be working all that well. Porn sites abound on the internet and adult video stores abound even in bible belt areas. In fact, another recent study showed that more online pornography was purchased by people in bible belt states than in other states². So before they attempt to control everyone else's behavior, perhaps they should try to control their own. I really don't want to get into how hypocritical a lot of Christians are, like Jimmy Swaggart who was caught with prostitutes in the 1980's, various Christian cult members like Tony Alamo charged with molesting young cult members, or the numerous pedophile priest scandals plaguing the Catholic church. But if you're going to claim that your morality is better than everyone else's, you should at least clean up your own back yard. I seem to remember a book about a guy who wore robes who was very angry at hypocrites.

Frankly, we'd all be much better off if Christians would just focus on themselves and leave the rest of us alone. If they want to be sexually repressed people having robotic sex only for the purpose of procreation, then that's their right. But they have no right to tell us that we shouldn't enjoy our own sex lives. I'm not saying that we should be having sex with as many people as possible, but just leave consenting adults to enjoy their own bedroom activities. Trying to control everyone's sexual urges is like trying to push back an ocean tide with a broom.

¹Sexual factors and prostate cancer
G.G. Giles , G. Severi*, D.R. English , M.R.E. McCredie†, R. Borland‡, P. Boyle* and J.L. Hopper¶
Cancer Epidemiology Centre, and
‡Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, The Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Australia,
*Division of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy,
†Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, Dunedin Medical School, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, and
¶Centre for Genetic Epidemiology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

²Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?
Edelman, Harvard Business School
Hypatia on 07/28/2011 22:05

R'amen brother DT.

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